Message Tab

Baptists help drought-stricken farmers with hay lift effort


BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (BP) — Disaster relief volunteers have added drought relief to their ministry in Tennessee.

Volunteers began delivering emergency supplies of hay to drought-stricken dairy and beef farmers in eastern Tennessee in mid-November.

David Acres, disaster relief director for the Tennessee Baptist Convention, reported that the hay is being delivered “to farm areas which experienced drought left over from this summer, that have low-level lakes and where the winter situation is bad for cattle farmers.”

Three disaster relief tractor-trailer rigs, the Tennessee Baptist Convention’s “Hurricane Hunter” and “Storm Chaser,” and the Sullivan Baptist Association’s “Volunteer Express” from Kingsport have pulled rented flatbed trailers with hay grown in other states to Tennessee’s Loudon, Monroe, and Bradley counties.

Larry Kirkland, a retired independent trucker and member of Blairland Baptist Church in Loudon, is credited with being the “brains” behind the hay lift.

Kirkland buys the hay himself and the farmer reimburses him for the hay as well as fuel, food, and lodging for the driver. Through the ministry, hay that would have cost farmers more than $90 per roll costs them less than $50.

Since the operation’s launch Nov. 15, hay rolls have been transported from Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Georgia, Arkansas, and Texas. Contacts for hay supplies have come from across the country and on the Internet. In Mt. Vernon, Texas, the farmers supplying hay are all Baptist church members, Kirkland said.